GUWAHATI, India, CMC – Left-hander Shimron Hetmyer struck a dashing hundred but Rohit Sharma and captain Virat Kohli answered with high-quality centuries of their own, as India hardly broke a sweat in chasing down a competitive 300-plus total to easily win the opening One-Day International here yesterday.
Facing a tricky target of 323 at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium, India produced an imperious run chase to get over the line with nearly eight overs remaining and draw first blood in the five-match series, condemning West Indies to an 11th defeat in their last 13 ODIs.
They had appeared to put India on the backfoot when Hetmyer’s 106 propelled them up to 322 for eight off their 50 overs – only their fourth 300-plus total since the 2015 World Cup – but Rohit slammed a robust, unbeaten 152 while Kohli stroked a breathtaking 140, to brutally snatch the game away from the Windies.
The assault came in the form of a magnificent record 246-run second wicket stand between Rohit and Kohli, which pulled the innings around after debutant fast bowler Oshane Thomas forced Shikhar Dhawan to play on in the second over for four with the score on 10.
The partnership was the highest for any wicket against West Indies and the seventh highest for India in ODIs overall.
Sent in, West Indies were also helped by opener Kieran Powell’s attacking 51, captain Jason Holder’s 38 while Shai Hope chipped in with 32 and tail-ender Kemar Roach, an unbeaten 26.
The tourists stumbled early on when debutant left-hander Chandrapaul Hemraj under-edged a pull at pacer Mohammed Shami (2-81) onto his stumps in the fifth over, to depart for nine with the score on 19.
However, Kieran Powell and Hope then carried the innings in an enterprising 65-run, second wicket stand, which enabled the Windies recovery.
Powell stroked six fours and two sixes off 39 deliveries while Hope notched two boundaries in a cautious 51-ball stay at the crease.
The Windies were clawing their way back when they suddenly lost three quick wickets to collapse to 114 for four in the 22nd over.
Left-hander Powell holed out down the ground off seamer Khaleel Ahmed in the 15th over and veteran right-hander Marlon Samuels perished in the very next over without scoring, missing a forward defensive stretch at leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3-41) and falling lbw to the second ball he faced on his 200th ODI appearance.
When Hope top-edged a pull at Shami for wicketkeeper MS Dhoni to take the catch running around to short-ish fine leg in the 22nd over, the Windies were tottering.
Hetmyer took charge of the innings, however, blasting six fours and six sixes in a scintillating knock, which required only 78 deliveries. His first nine runs required 17 balls but he upped the tempo to reach his half-century off 41 deliveries.
The 21-year-old, in only his 13th ODI, then needed only another 33 deliveries to reach his second landmark in the 38th over – blasting Shami majestically over cover for his final six to post triple figures for the third time in his career and third time this year.
Along the way, he added 74 for the fifth wicket with Rovman Powell (22) before posting another 60 runs for the sixth wicket with Holder who was good for five fours in a 42-ball knock.
Hetmyer eventually fell in the 39th over, caught on the ropes at long on off left-arm spinner Ravi Jadeja but India – after snaring three wickets for 30 runs – were frustrated by tail-enders Roach (26 not out) and Devendra Bishoo (22 not out) who put on 44 in an unbroken ninth wicket stand at the end.
West Indies struck early when the pacy Thomas hurried Dhawan into false stroke but that proved their last glimpse of victory as Rohit and Kohli ruthlessly annihilated an impotent attack.
Rohit faced 117 deliveries and blazed 15 fours and eight fours en route to his 20th one-day hundred while Kohli hardly put a foot wrong in an innings laced with 21 fours and two sixes, as he notched his 36th ODI century.
Kohli was first to his fifty off 33 balls when he slashed off-spinner Ashley Nurse to the backward point boundary in the 11th over, and he raised his hundred off 88 deliveries in the 27th over with a cover-driven four off Roach.
Rohit, meanwhile, notched his first fifty off 51 balls, required only a further 33 deliveries for his hundred before marching to his 150 off 117 balls.
Kohli was in sight of his 150 when ineffective leg-spinner Bishoo – who leaked 72 runs from his 10 overs – drew him from his crease and had him stumped.
By then, however, the Windies were demoralised and the unbroken 70-run, third wicket stand between Rohit and Ambati Rayudu (22 not out) completed their misery.